You’re packing for a weekend out of town and out of the corner of your eye, you see your cat’s gleaming eyes looking at you. Then it strikes – where do you leave your furball when you’re away? This is in fact, a common dilemma faced by pet owners everywhere who are constantly looking for places to leave their furry companions.
But, with so many options such as cat hotels, boarding facilities, and even luxury cat resorts available, why does this dilemma still persist?
For many cat owners, the idea of socialising their cat with other animals and humans in a completely new setting doesn’t sit right with them. They’d rather have their cats receive individualised and loving attention in a known setting, such as in the comfort of their own home! This is where cat sitting and in-home cat boarding come into play.
Pet sitting services, as well as in-home pet boarding, are trusted and secure solutions to ensure your cat(s) receive the one-on-one attention and love they deserve.
When deciding where to leave your furry friend while you’re away, it’s important to understand the difference between cat sitting, in-home cat boarding, and cat boarding facilities.
What are cat boarding facilities?
Cat boarding facilities are just as the name suggests, boarding facilities just for cats! These facilities generally house many cats together under one roof, and in some cases, even other animals (this is more common in the case of generic pet boarding facilities).
By regularly providing food, water, toys, baths, and litter box services, cat boarding facilities take care of it all while you’re away. Although this sounds handy-dandy, leaving your cat at a boarding facility can be stressful and traumatic for your cat, to say the least.
As the staff at cat boarding facilities have to tend to the needs of multiple cats at once, they often miss out on providing your cat with specialised and individualised care. This can take a toll on the quality of your beloved cat’s physical and mental health while you’re away.
What’s the hype with cat sitting and in-home cat boarding?
Cat sitting is much like babysitting, except instead of babies, the service involves looking after cats!
When it comes to cat sitting, owners do not have to send their furry friends off to a boarding facility. Instead, a verified pet sitter will come over to the owner’s home to look after their cat while they’re away. This provides your cat with the individualised attention and care they need without interrupting their routine.
If you want your cat to receive the special attention of a pet sitter, but not at your home, then in-home cat boarding is the way to go. This puts a twist on cat sitting services, and lets you choose between having the pet sitter come over to take care of your pet, or sending your cat over to their place. Having this option gives pet owners the flexibility to choose the best option for them – either at their residence or boarding the cat at the sitter’s residence.
Now, the question still stands, where do you leave your cat? Here’s a look at 6 compelling reasons why you should choose cat sitting and in-home boarding services over cat boarding facilities.
1. Cats may find it hard to socialise with other animals in boarding facilities
Being highly territorial creatures, cats firmly defend their ground against other animals. In fact, they are known for their frequent shows of aggression against other animals, humans, and even cats!
These household felines prefer having spaces to themselves, and are only known to engage with other cats and animals for instinctual compulsions such as mating, catching prey, or marking their territory.
With qualities like this, cats may be uncomfortable around other cats and animals at boarding facilities.
In the presence of multiple cats or animals, it’s easy for cats to experience sensory overload from the constant barks, scents, motions, and tastes.
When stressed out, cats may go as far as pulling fur off themselves by the mouthfuls. This can result in large balding patches on their body and tail. Overtime, this hair ingestion can cause constipation and respiratory conditions that are detrimental to the cat’s health.
Pacing, restlessness, hiding, reduced appetite, vocalisation, hypervigilance, trembling, salivation, and excessive grooming are other signs that a cat is overwhelmed or anxious.
Having a cat sitter come over, or sending your cat over to the sitter’s place is a much more peaceful solution for your cat. This keeps your furry friend safe from extreme sensory stimulation that makes them resort to stress-induced behaviours.
What’s more is that pet sitters understand cat behaviour and sensitively handle them to relieve them of anxiety and stress.
In-home boarding and cat sitting services ascertain that one pet sitter is allocated only one pet at a time to keep your cat away from distressing situations. The luxury and comfort of in-home boarding beats that of any cat boarding facility. The best part is all sitters know their way around engaging cats in fun activities to keep them at ease.
2. Boarding facilities are a main source of disease/infection contraction
When animals are mingled together, the transfer of diseases is almost inevitable as there may be frequent interactions in common play areas.
In many cases, even stringent verifications of vaccination reports may not stand the test of stubborn infections waiting to harm your cat. Some contractible diseases that often result in fatal outcomes if left untreated, include rabies, feline distemper, and feline leukaemia.
The vast majority of contagious upper respiratory problems stem from feline calicivirus and feline herpesvirus, both of which spread from sneezing, coughing, or improperly cleaned water and food bowls.
These are common occurrences at boarding facilities as staff are short on time when cleaning, feeding, or engaging cats. It’s important to note that one infected animal is all it takes to spread diseases like wildfire at a facility.
With pet sitting services, the chance of contracting diseases from other animals is minimised, and in some cases, completely eliminated.
Hygiene is a prime value according to the 4 H Policy, when it comes to pet sitting and in-home pet boarding, which means pet sitters take maximum care to thoroughly clean the cat’s environment – whether it be at your place or theirs.
Before each in-home boarding service, sitters have to sanitise the space to ensure quality standards are upheld. Adding on to this, professional cat sitters will be able to immediately identify whether a cat is ill based on their experience from several cat sitting/cat boarding sessions.
As soon as they identify any concerning symptoms, sitters will alert the cat parent without fail. Upon consent from the cat parent, sitters can take the cat to their designated vet if required.
3. A cat’s routine may be disrupted at boarding facilities
Their routines are generally formed around their human’s schedule. When these routines are disrupted, cats can experience heightened levels of stress that can wreak havoc on their mental and physical health.
At boarding facilities, it is common that staff function on one shared schedule for all animals instead of taking individual routines into consideration. Due to this, no matter how comfortable the boarding facility may seem, your cat’s internal routine is likely to get disrupted.
Individualised one-on-one attention focused solely on the cat’s needs is what pet sitting is all about. When owners go away, they can relay the routine and schedule that their cat is used to, along with the major do’s and don’ts to the pet sitter. Whether it be feeding them at a specific time, giving them meds when needed, or setting aside play time, cat sitters will be on the job to ensure your cat maintains its secure routine.
The pet sitter will then be committed to diligently following each instruction given. Also, being in the comfort of their own home, or that of the sitter’s, lets cats have their way throughout the day. In the event that owners leave cats at the sitter’s home, the cat is allowed time beforehand to get acclimated to the environment.
4. Health and hygiene may be compromised at boarding facilities
Hygiene is of the essence for cats as it directly relates to the quality of their health. To ensure optimal hygiene, cats require regular baths, dental care procedures, skin and fur care, ear cleaning, food/water bowl cleaning and changes, as well as litter box changes. On top of this, their play and nap areas need to be wiped down.
As boarding facilities often have many pets living together, it becomes a challenge to keep track of, and take care of each one’s unique hygiene needs. These facilities also generally use a standard set of cleaning and grooming products, some of which cats may find aversive, such as heavy duty citrus smelling products.
Even the materials used in spaces impact hygiene conditions. Wood, for instance, soaks up urine and other fluids, which can become a breeding ground for germs and bacteria. If cats play in a germ-filled environment, they are likely to contract conditions like feline infectious enteritis (FIE), the cat flu, feline infectious anaemia (FIA), or tapeworms while at boarding facilities. This is why it is important to use pet friendly materials that are easy to clean.
When it comes to hiring a pet sitter, owners ensure they specify the cleaning and grooming products their pets are comfortable with for use at their homes.
If pet boarding is arranged at the sitter’s place, cat owners can request a Meet and Greet Session to understand the array of cleaning products they use in their home.
Nonetheless, pet sitters generally do not use cleaning products that cause discomfort for cats. According to standard operating procedures, it is mandatory that pet sitter’s sanitise their home before each pet stay.
Sitters also cat proof their place, and ensure regular usage of only pet friendly products. Also, as the interaction between your cat and other animals is curbed, pet sitting makes for a hygienic stay when you’re away!
5. Improved human-cat interaction quality
Cats are weary and slow to get comfortable with humans and their surroundings. If rushed into socialising and moving through their surroundings, cats are likely to get startled and stressed. This is unfortunately the case in boarding facilities.
As staff are often put on a strict roaster to go from one boarding room to another, they may not have the time to let your cats get accustomed to the surroundings on their own watch.
As a result, your cat may find ways to escape the situation, seek out places to hide, as well as exhibit decreased activity levels. All of this combined can be severely taxing on your cat’s health.
As pet sitters understand cat behaviour, they allow time for the cat to get used to them. If sitting is happening at the pet sitter’s house, they let the cat explore the surroundings and get comfortable.
This gives the cat the space to interact with the human on their own terms, which will in turn improve the nature of human-cat interaction quality.
With years of experience and a detailed briefing session from cat parents, cat sitters know the techniques on how to make cats comfortable around them. Most cat sitters undergo periodic assessments, upskilling and training sessions to maintain quality service standards.
Kejal Jhaveri, COO of Pawland, says “More often than not, we witness the cats greeting our cat sitters with so much of love during their second pet sitting session onward.” She goes on to say, “This shows the quality of bond they have built during their first session and the comfort levels they share with each other.”
6. Cats need the right temperature and amount of sunlight
Just like humans and all other living beings, cats need adequate sunlight to be happy and healthy. While a residential home may offer this, cat boarding facilities may not give cats sufficient time to bask in sunlight.
Cats thrive in environments that have the right amount of sunlight and are set at the right temperature to keep them warm. In cat boarding facilities, there is generally a centralised temperature control which doesn’t take each cat’s individual temperature requirements into consideration.
As cats are susceptible to respiratory conditions, maintaining the right temperature is essential.
With pet sitting services, the sunlight and temperature can be adjusted to what cat’s are used to. Cats can move around and soak up as much sunlight as they require.
Sitters are given clear instructions to maintain and adjust the temperatures as required. Also, if a cat appears to be under the weather, cat sitters immediately intimate the parent to decide on the course of action to be taken in the best interest of the cat’s health.
The Final Verdict
After all this, the answer is quite obvious. What better way than hiring a professional pet sitter to look after your furry friend at your place or theirs?
We’ll have you know that pet sitters go through a stringent background check, and an extensive onboarding process.
Pet sitting professionals are avid pet lovers who will take care of your pet like theirs. You can even choose the pet sitter you want based on your requirements!
Skandashree, the CEO of Pawland, said “In our experience with more than 1000s of cat boarding sessions, we witness that cats generally tend to take only a few hours to get adjusted to the new cat sitter. Once they get acclimatised, they become super comfortable, confident and happy around their new caretakers.”
She further goes on to say, ”Moreover, their biggest confidence comes from the fact that they aren’t caged or confined. The cats end up snuggling with the cat sitters while they watch TV or when they go to sleep. They are practically treated like family”.
The best part is, you can keep a tab on your cat at all times if you have a pet monitoring camera at home. Making things better, our sitters will also send you periodic photo & video updates of your beloved kitty while you’re away.
Still have questions on cat boarding facilities and sitting services? Check out the FAQ section below.
Frequently Asked Questions
Cat sitting is when a pet sitter comes over to your house to take care of your furry feline. The pet sitter will take ownership of feeding your cat, changing their litter, and playing with them. If there is a barrier to coming over and taking care of the cat at your home, the pet sitter can take care of your cat in their own home as well. This gives your pet comprehensive personalised care and individualised attention.
Cats experience severe stress and may even stop eating if they do not get acclimated to the surroundings of the boarding facility. In the case that they do not eat for prolonged durations of time, they are at risk of developing potentially life threatening conditions.
As kittens are young and their immune systems are yet to be fully developed, they are more susceptible to infections and diseases. It is important to keep them in a controlled and hygienic environment that is preferably away from other animals. While boarding facilities may not be able to guarantee this, it is better to opt for pet sitting services where your kitten will receive undivided care from professional pet sitters.
Elderly cats, cats that are sick, and those that need medical attention require individualised care. They also require a stress-free and comfortable setting to recover and recuperate in. By reading through this blog, you may have deduced that cat boarding facilities are not always effective in offering specialised and individualised care. This can often further a cat’s condition, causing stress for both the cat and their parent. Considering this, it is better to opt for pet sitting services.
Being in an unfamiliar boarding facility often leads cats to experience physical, behavioural, and mental discomfort. This causes the demonstration of abnormal behaviours that you notice after picking them up. Although it should go away over time, this discomfort can be avoided by opting for cat sitting and in-home boarding services.